Poisonous Plant Likely Killed 19 Utah Elk

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Poisonous Plant Likely Killed 19 Utah Elk

Posted 2023-02-20T11:00:00Z

The deadly yew plant can be found in many yards throughout the state

Nineteen dead elk have been discovered in Mapleton, Utah, and a plant found in many yards is likely to blame.

After finding a dead elk with no signs of trauma, a local police officer contacted the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) on January 21. Then, more and more diseased elk were discovered.

According to abc4.com, three of the dead elk were taken to a veterinary diagnostic lab where reports showed all three animals had the yew plant it their stomachs.

DWR said the elk have likely gained access to this plant because they've been coming down further into urban settings this year than in past years due to deep snow.

A lot of our elk are coming down right now… because of the deep snow, Scott Root with the DWR said. "When you're elk and you get down this low to get out of the snow, you might feed on different plants that people have planted.

Non-native Japanese and European yew plants are often planted throughout yards in the state, but they are extremely toxic to animals and humans.

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It's a bad little plant that people have been planting in their yards for years because it's pretty, it's got a really interesting yellow flower, Root said, but what they don't realize is the sap from that plant if it gets rubbed in your eyes can blind you and give you a terrible rash.

The horticulturist at Millcreek Gardens says almost every part of the yew plant contains cytotoxins, which are poisonous to humans and animals alike.

The DWR hopes everyone can learn from this and make some changes to their landscapes.

I'd like to think there's a silver lining to this. We can now do the research and we're all starting to learn about this plant and other plants that can be toxic. Root said. And if we're going to plan some landscaping, we can plan some more wildlife-friendly landscaping.

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